Rihanna thrives

By: Kristin Helf, Columnist

The physical copy of Rihanna’s new album “Anti” was released Feb. 5. While sales of Ri’s tangible music are dwindling, as tends to happen in this day and age, “Anti” is a huge success, and was certified platinum within just 14 hours of its digital release on Jan. 27. So what accounts for its millions of digital downloads?

Sure, Rihanna’s club-friendly radio hits have been topping the charts for over a decade, but “Anti” lacks any clear smash-hit, EDM-esque single like we’re used to hearing from her.

The fourth track on the album, the Drake-assisted “Work,” comes close. But with Rihanna teasing fans with pieces of the new album for over a year, followed by the accidental early release of “Anti” on music-streaming service Tidal, what are Rihanna fans so hyped up about?

After so many years of aforementioned success, it seems that Rihanna has finally taken the reigns when it comes to the direction and sound of her own music. She’s made millions of dollars for herself and the industry with a seriously long list of hits ranging from “Pon de Replay” to “B*tch Better Have My Money.”

“Anti” is self-indulgent in a way that Ri’s previous albums and singles aren’t and caters to the pop star’s personal tastes — which is what makes it so, so good.

Rihanna dances and grinds the night away in the music video for “Work” (teased on the singer’s Snapchat), but most of the other songs aren’t about hitting the club scene. They’re introspective and deeply personal reflections on Rihanna’s life in the spotlight.

In an article for Time entitled, “Review: Rihanna’s “Anti” Rewrites the Rules of Her Career,” reviewer Nolan Feeney sums up the lyrical content.

“Rihanna has a clear point of view on “Anti” too, and it’s a depressing one,” Feeney said. “The lyrical glimpses into Rihanna’s personal life echo her dissatisfaction with her own musical legacy. This is an album about what gets cropped out of her beloved zero-f—s-given Instagram account; an album that reveals just how unfulfilling, if not downright alienating, being a superstar can be.”

While songs on “Anti” are a far cry from BBHMM, they’re timeless in a way that singles of years past haven’t been.

Rihanna’s personal taste is more alternative and old-school than fans might have expected, which she displays with hazy guitar sounds and even a cover of Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.”

“Anti” isn’t necessarily an album that all Top 40 listeners will love, but for those of you looking for more depth and intimacy within the music of a dance-pop icon, “Anti” is your answer.

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